Today was the mass exodus. After a fun friend and family filled week, both of my older kids and my in-laws went back to their normal lives today. As Anna walked out the door I felt that familiar feeling of “something is missing” creep in, and after dropping John off I heard a song that inevitably reminds me of him and I cried. Moms, you get me.
But I am also learning in this stage to be all-in while we have those times – and not just with my kids. As we continue pushing into friendships here in church and this community I want to make sure that I don’t take those for granted. We have chosen a life here in DC where we get to stay this time around for the long haul, but many others leave. Around our Thanksgiving table this year were several young adults who will most likely not be in this part of the world next year for the holidays. This is a new dynamic for us – being the “stayers” is much different than being the ones leaving.
But if ex-pat life taught me anything, it is to jump in feet first and go deep. Don’t waste time on conversations and activities that keep things at the surface. Instead pull out the games where you laugh together and get to accuse each other of silly things all the while figuring out personalities, reactions, and what makes a person feel most comfortable and loved. Try activities that are new to you or everyone around you and document it with pictures so in the years to come you can share and reminisce about being brave together. Learn to say someone’s given name in their heart language rather than their English version and watch their faces light up even when you completely mess it up. Ask what you can be praying for – and then actually do it. In other words, be a place of stability for those people who lives are transient and ever-changing. We have had those people in our lives and now it’s our turn to give this back.
I am very content to be in this new role of staying. I can’t wait to not be the newbie, but even as we wade through our first year here we learn how to love our new home and family well so that we can offer that to each person as they come (and sometimes go) in our lives. Though the holes will always be present as people we love leave, there never seems to be more empty space than the space that is filled. For that I am thankful.